Press Statement
24 March 2014

For reference: Bruce Van Voorhis
Co-Convenor
Tel. No. (852) 9492-3064

Release the Tiamzons, pursue peace negotiations

As human rights and peace advocates, the Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP) calls for the unconditional release of NDFP consultants to the peace negotiations, Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon.

We are very much concerned that their illegal arrest shall push the peace negotiations further in danger of collapse.

According to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the two are holders of NDFP Document of Identification and Letters of Acknowledgement signed by former Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH) negotiating panel chief Silvestre Bello III that put them under the cover of JASIG or the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

The GPH’s arrest of NDFP peace consultants, including Alan Jazmines, has been hindering the advance of the peace negotiations. The criminalization of NDFP peace personnel puts into question the sincerity of the GPH in pursuing the long-stalled peace negotiations with the NDFP.

Aside from these illegal arrests, the continued extrajudicial killings of activists including the Ligiws – anti-mining activists in Abra in Northern Philippines – and Romeo Capalla who was a fair trade advocate in Panay island, and the appointment of a Martial Law general to the compensation body for victims of the Marcos dictatorship have not contributed to creating a favourable condition for the peace talks.

To date, the human rights group Karapatan has documented 169 cases of extrajudicial killings, 179 cases of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 19 cases of enforced disappearance, 86 cases of torture and 570 cases of illegal arrest and detention under the Aquino government. These are on top of the more than 1,000 victims of killings under the previous government who have not yet been granted justice.

The arrest of JASIG-protected NDFP personnel constitutes a violation of previous agreements and disrespects advancements that have been made in the past including the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL).

The Tiamzons should be released immediately and unconditionally. Instead of arresting NDFP personnel, the GPH should instead heed the calls for the resumption of the peace negotiations based on previously agreed upon system and process.#

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Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of
Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines
c/o ASA, No. 4 Jordan Road , Kowloon , Hong Kong SAR
Tel. (852) 98105070, 97585935 Fax. (852) 27354559
E-mail: hkcahrpp@gmail.com